Why Did NSA Raise Traffickers for a Story about Drone Killing Terrorists?

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There was an odd statement from NSA in the middle of yesterday’s WaPo story describing how NSA facilitates CIA’s drone mission (click to embiggen).

The NSA is “focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets, such as terrorists, human traffickers and drug smugglers,” the agency said Wednesday in a statement. “Our activities are directed against valid foreign intelligence targets in response to requirements from U.S. leaders in order to protect the nation and its interests from threats such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” [my emphasis]

While the NSA is finally admitting again their central cybersecurity focus, I believe this is the first time since the Snowden leak that NSA has suggested its “valid foreign intelligence targets” include “human traffickers and drug smugglers.”

It’s not surprising they are, mind you, especially given the Obama Administration’s focus on Transnational Criminal Organizations.

It’s just that the admission comes in a story about NSA’s contributions to drones for which the WaPo explained,

[T]he documents provide the most detailed account of the intricate collaboration between the CIA and the NSA in the drone campaign.

The Post is withholding many details about those missions, at the request of U.S. intelligence officials who cited potential damage to ongoing operations and national security.

It seems the only reason to raise the issue is if some of the materials on drones make it clear they’re being used — if not lethally — against entirely new kinds of targets: human traffickers and drug smugglers (though there have been a slew of stories that they were even used to hunt Chapo Guzman).

Ah well. It’s all moot now. OneKade alerts me that the reference has now been removed from the story.

Poof! All record the NSA and CIA used drones against drug traffickers gone!

6 replies
  1. john francis lee says:

    ” Poof! All record the NSA and CIA used drones against drug traffickers gone! ”

    Probably a case of post-operative classification : if we killed you, you were a bad guy. Sometimes its more of a reach to come up with the ” flavor ” of bad guy you were than others.

    Being killed by a drone … although not, presumably, being vaporized by a drone … makes you a target of a posthumous investigation. That’s why they have all of our … everyone’s … communications in the can. Never can tell when a CIA whack job will make one of us a posthumous target for ” justification ” … I mean ” investigation “.

    Meanwhile, did you see the ACLU’s insights into the Israeli ” peace process “ ?

  2. Sally Mae Cavanaugh says:

    Question: Is it possible to file a class action lawsuit against congress to force them to take action in light of DNI James Clapper lying to congress about the activities of the NSA?

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Against “entirely”, not “exclusively”, “new kinds of targets”. One suspects the administration picked these two enemies du jour for their propaganda effect and as a shield to divert attention away from the primary or uglier uses to which this administration puts its expanding drone fleet.

  4. Strangely Enough says:

    Transnational Criminal Organizations*

    *Offer does not apply to banks, regardless of whom they launder money for.

  5. Bladur Dasche says:

    It’s the Israeli model: The give you a phone call to make sure you’re really who they think you are, just before you get snotted. Reduces collateral damage.

  6. Doug Valentine says:

    As chair of the coordinating committee, Walter Minnick passed along Egil Krogh’s instructions, oversaw international programs, and got involved in overseas operations. At Minnick’s urging, CCINC (Cabinet Committee for International narcotics Control) had the US embassy in each source
    country assign a Narcotics Control Officer (NCO) to create an action plan. By mid-1973, some sixty countries had been selected for Narcotics Control Action Plans.38 NCOs generally came from State, the CIA, the military, or the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Nelson Gross chaired the Working Group and managed the NCO program. The NSA helped with phone taps, and by placing undercover agents in telegraph companies overseas. – from Doug Valentine’s book The Strength of the Pack

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